Milborne St Andrew
Saturday 21st March 2015
by Brian & Gill Armstrong
Robbie Henderson rode his 100th winner on The Otter Club's Men's Open winner Hameldown Tor at Milborne St Andrew. His tally consists of 86 point-to-point victories, 13 under National Hunt rules and one Limerick hurdle race win in a Tri Nations Amateur Riders Challenge in July 2011. The 25-year-old opened his account aboard his parents', Guy and Sophie's, Sahara Legend at the 2008 Warwickshire and enjoyed his best pointing season when runner-up to national champion Will Biddick in the 2013/14 with 32 winners. He achieved his biggest success aboard his parents' Ellerslie George in Wincanton's prestigious Badger Ales Trophy in November 2009. Hameldown Tor has now won or been placed in 18 of his 20 races between the flags. "This looked easier than tomorrow's Kilworthy Mixed Open, but credit to syndicate head Ken Edwards, who is stewarding at the VWH, but was still happy for Hameldown Tor to run today," said Ottery St Mary trainer Ed Walker. A return to hunter chasing is on the cards.
Welsh jockey Mathew Barber, 23, celebrated his first visit to Milborne St Andrew with a double aboard Hellesbelles and Fine Resolve. The former made much of the running in the 2m-4f maiden before holding off Michael Legg's late challenge aboard Foxes Bridge. "I bought her privately from Tim Vaughan, for whom Mathew works," said Newport's Tom Faulkner, who rode 34 winners between the flags. Fine Resolve sealed victory with a better last fence jump than Bridgend owner-trainer Andrew' Leyshon's second runner, Distant Sound (Evan David). "They've been working equally well together at home, so I couldn't separate them, although [my daughter] Rachael would have ridden Distant Sound if she hadn't pulled ligaments in her right shoulder at Chepstow on Thursday," revealed Andrew.
Charly Prichard added her name to the list of successful first-time Welsh visitors when Claire Hitch's Minella Fifty justified odds-on favouritism in the ladies' contest. Minella Fifty ran out a comfortable winner after taking the lead at the end of the first circuit. "He was hunting last week, went to the beach on Thursday, was in a nice frame of mind and needed a race," summed up Claire. "Charly has kept hold of him and nursed him down the hill beautifully. His next race will depend on the arrival of some rain."
Will Biddick reached his 26-winner of the season mark when Kostaquarta got the better of 2014 winner Turtle Boys after the pair had jumped the last upsides in the PPORA Club Members' race. The win took the country's leading trainer Jack Barber onto the 21-winner mark but was missed by Paul and Sharon Burley, joint owners with Jack's parents, Jeremy and Sarah Barber, who were attending a Plymouth wedding.
David Turner's Coeur Brule returned from a 40-month absence to open his account in the 3-mile Maiden. The nine-year-old had not appeared since finishing runner-up in his only previous point-to-point at Black Forest Lodge in November 2011. "He broke down that day and has been in a field at [farrier] Paul Coombes' Salisbury yard ever since," said Arab race rider David, who showed his delight by performing a Frankie Dettori style flying dismount in the winner's enclosure. "He had nearly three years rest before we started hunting him last autumn. We've no facilities, so I train him on tracks in the local woods and by riding around the Roman roads on the Wilton estate."